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Dutch Marijuana Breeding - the pioneers.

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior
The breeze of history is blowing, as the 'Flying Dutchman' Eddie lets his mind travel back and describes scenarios like this: "Every time when Nevil from 'The Seed Bank' opened his post box, masses of letters with fat dollar notes spilled out. In his Dutch breeding facilities, he produced extra potent marijuana seeds and most profitably sent them to the USA, which was like being in a gold rush."

I could listen for hours, when Eddie Reekeder, founder and owner of the Dutch seed company The Flying Dutchmen, speaks about the early days of the Dutch cannabis boom in the mid 80's, in which he himself played an essential role. Apart from the aforementioned Australian Nevil, founder of the legendary Dutch 'Seed Bank', and Ben Dronkers (Sensi Seeds), Eddie was one of the famous three skunk pioneers who obtained a collection of superb true breeding strains in 1984 from an American guy called 'The Skunk Man'.

Amongst them the ground breaking Skunk#1, Early California, Haze, Thai, Mexican, Afghan and South African. "At first, I rejected the skunk man's offer, because he demanded extraordinarily high prices for his seeds, and we in Holland were not used to this. Until then, we had cultivated mainly The Purple and The Green Lemon in Greenhouses, and were fairly proud of these own Dutch creations. However, we did not have the slightest idea of the fact that the potency of our 'Nederwiet' was worlds apart from the super strong US strains", Eddie reports.

But 'The Skunk Man' gave Eddie some free Skunk seeds, so that he could convince himself. After having grown the seeds, Eddie was not only convinced, but totally overwhelmed by the results of his first Skunk crop: "It was immediately clear to me that these seeds would radically change the whole Dutch marijuana scene. These huge and extremely resinous Skunk buds were sensational, and their THC content and amazing aroma catapulted us into new dimensions. In addition to that, the plants ripened very early and showed great uniformity."

Then everything happened quickly; the age of extensive marijuana greenhouse cultivation in the Netherlands began. Eddie and others came into contact with discreet tomato farmers who were willing to lease their large greenhouses for marijuana cultivation. "In the beginning, it was of course pretty hard work to convince these kinds of conservative farmers, but finally, money was the crucial factor, and both sides profited from the operation." Although in the 70's, Eddie had run his own flower shop in Amsterdam, and after that was also active in the flower wholesale sector, he did not know very much about plant cultivation before he started growing cannabis.

"The first step is always the most difficult", Eddie reports, "for example, we wanted to grow and fertilize fully organically, this was clear and important right from the start. But at that time, there was no literature available in Holland about the use of fish emulsion and similar stuff for cannabis fertilization, so we were not sure about adequate fertilizer dosages.

But following the motto 'better more than less', we gave far too many nutrients to the plants, and their leaves were heavily damaged. But mistakes like this you only make once, after that we got things going properly." When it came to area sizes, the motto 'the bigger, the better' proved successful to Eddie. He planted The Skunk Man's seeds, 10,000 per strain, in greenhouses that were up to 20,000 square metres. Eddie then selected the best 50 plants from each crossing. After this the process was repeated again. This repetitive breeding process is essential to stabilise each strain, ensuring uniformity for further development.

But soon a problem arose: What to do, if one wants to maintain a certain individual plant over a long period of time? Seed based cultivation cycles come and go, and genetics change more or less with every new generation. Eddie heard of rumours about American growers having successfully produced clones of individual cannabis plants, this made him test the technique for himself: "In the beginning, we had fairly poor survival rates, but after a certain time, we knew how to do the trick.

At that time, we were also running commercial marijuana growing operations for some Dutch coffee shops. This field of business did also profit very much from the introduction of clones, since the yields from clone-based growing operations were much higher. Nobody would've believed that this could have been such a pure money-spinner for us! The greenhouse rent together with the high energy and other production costs were enormous, and apart from that, we reinvested a lot into the technical equipment for the facilities. We were just freaks, having only one goal in mind: Growing and harvesting cannabis like hell. We wanted to explore and make use of the full potential of the cannabis plant. For example, it didn't last long until we installed darkening devices in the greenhouse plots, for multiple harvests over the year, black foil that was drawn manually over the plants. But this daily work took such a great effort that we decided to introduce an automatic system which was something other than cheap."

Not everything worked out perfectly, as with every marijuana grower, Eddie suffered a couple of major setbacks. For example, when Eddie and his partners were absent for two days, the farmer of one of the greenhouses arbitrarily closed all its ventilation outlets, "to stop that intensive smell around". Heavy mould infestation was the consequence. When Eddie returned, a difficult decision had to be made: Either treating the crop with a 'chemical hammer' or losing 75% of the total harvest. They didn't hesitate any second, and destroyed the mouldy plants due to health concerns: they did not want to endanger their customers.

Eddie comments on this: "What if somebody would have died from smoking our pesticide treated weed!? These chemicals are an absolute no-no for us." Another bitter setback was the loss of his Original Durban Poison mother plants as a result of a police bust. How often in his career has Eddie been unfriendly visited by the police? "Well, countless times", he answers smiling, "alone in 1986 it happened already six or seven times.

That was the risky factor which came with the business, but the penalties were still very mild back in those days. I never had to go to jail; all cases were settled with community service. One time I had a free choice where to serve my 240 hours of community service. I chose a drug helpline, and they went for it! Probably the authorities thought that in view of my 'delinquency' I would be in good hands there?" The fact that Eddie was busted several times is not surprising: The Dutch police quickly learnt that marijuana growers tried to camouflage their greenhouse plantations by cultivating regular ornamental plants, such as chrysanthemums around them, but the use of helicopters still made them easy to detect.

"In the 80's, we were operating a greenhouse near Rotterdam with an area of 15,000 m2, there were 8,000 m2 of chrysanthemums in the front part, and 7,000 m2 of cannabis hidden behind it. But after a certain time, the cops discovered the fraud from the air", the pioneer remembers.

As already mentioned, in the first years of the Dutch cannabis boom, Eddie was active in both the field of seed breeding and large-scale marijuana production for coffee shops. He produced the seeds anonymously and exclusively for the wholesale sector and they were marketed under another label. When large-scale marijuana production was getting too hot in the 90's due to severer punishments, he decided to retire from that business sector and to focus solely on seed breeding from there on. He kept on supplying the wholesale sector for some years, until he finally opened his own seed bank in 1998: The Flying Dutchmen.

That step actually came fairly late for a guy like him, who had possessed some of the best genetics and mother plants in Holland for already 14 years. But although the market was already highly competitive by 1998, Eddie still managed to establish his seed bank very quickly, because he offered and still offers excellent quality at fair prices. At the moment, The Flying Dutchmen's collection features 18 strains, 15 F1 hybrids, 2 true breeding, pure strains (Skunk#1, a.k.a. The Pure, and Original Haze), and one F1 hybrid crossed back to its father (Pineapple Punch). All seeds are cultivated organically. Eddie hands over some dried bud specimens of pure Hindu Kush and Skunk#1 to me, marvellous pieces of Dutch breeding art.

The Flying Dutchmen offer a highly advantageous price/performance ratio: 11 seeds of pure Skunk #1 (The Pure), with its unique genetics preserved over decades, costs only €20. And the most expensive strain within the TFLD collection is Original Haze for €65. The rest lies in between, great weed strains like the prize-winning Pot of Gold (Hindu Kush x Skunk#1), The Real Mc Coy (Hawaii x Skunk#1), and of course the exciting Sativa hit Thai-tanic - just to name a few. In 2002, Eddie also produced seeds in Swiss greenhouses, but after two seasons, he decided no to anymore, because the situation in Switzerland had become more and more hostile to marijuana growers and breeders, especially to those from abroad. At least he didn't get busted in the Alp republic.

The Flying Dutchmen core team consists of shop manager Madeleen ("she is my right hand," Eddie says) and Sjoerd who supports Eddie in the breeding sector. There is also a very close relation to the Cannabis College that is located right across from the Flying Dutchmen shop in Amsterdam. Eddie was one of the founders in 1998: "I wanted to give something back to the plant that I owe so much to. That's why I decided to support the Cannabis College, managed by Lorna, from the beginning on", he describes his motivation.

The Cannabis College is a non-profit information centre where people from all over the world can learn about all aspects of the hemp plant. Unluckily, a fire occurred in 2002, whereby most of the interior burnt down. Thanks to numerous donations, the institution could be refurbished. In July 2003, when I visited The Flying Dutchmen and the Cannabis College, Lorna proudly showed me around a new and improved Cannabis College.

Eddie and Madeleen do not believe that the coffee shop system is going to be totally abolished by the government: "In this case, the trade and consumption of soft drugs would return to the streets and private houses, that's not what our government should strive for. Apart from that, according to surveys, up to 80% of young tourists come to Amsterdam mainly because of the free cannabis sale and consumption they can enjoy here, and you wouldn't think that the government could afford to do without this important tourist attraction and tax money source. However, the government will never openly admit to this," Madeleen analyses convincingly. And Eddie - well, this sympathetic Dutch 'veteran' has experienced already too much in the cannabis sector to be seriously alarmed by any governmental action?

Source: Green Born Identity - G.B.I.
 
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